Sunday, June 2, 2013

Inside Amherst Town Meeting: Ugh

 Echo Village Apartments: threat of eminent domain taking could reappear

According to the sacred rules of Amherst Town Meeting a "Motion to reconsider" an article (almost always one that has failed) can be made by any member as long as they did not "vote in the minority".

With Article 42, the controversial $2.6 million eminent domain taking of Echo Village Apartments, 24 units of formerly low-to-moderate priced rentals, that leaves plenty of opportunity since the main motion failed last week by being referred back to a committee for more study 95 yes-94 no.

That of course sounds skin-of-your-teeth close, except the main motion (taking the apartment complex by eminent domain) required a two-thirds super majority to pass, so it really wasn't even close.

If however one of those 95 yes voters (and I was one) changes their mind and wants to stand up and make a motion to reconsider, that's all it takes.  Or someone who was not present at the meeting when the article was voted on, which in this case means 50 people. 

Thus we have a potential pool of 145 movers.  And it only takes one.

Town Meeting then debates and votes on whether they wish to reconsider.  That requires a majority vote to pass.  If passed, it then magically transforms us back to the moment before someone "called the question" to end debate.

Thus the discussion begins anew, while the clock keeps on ticking. 

Either way Town Meeting will also get to Article 43 on Monday night, the other eminent domain article.   This one calls for stealing the "development rights" on 154 acres of forest in northeast Amherst currently under contract to a student housing developer for $6.5 million dollars.

Scary to think in only one night Amherst Town Meeting could make back-to-back mistakes costing taxpayers $9 million dollars.


Anonymous said...

Why in heaven's name would we want to own Echo Hill? I understand that some people cannot afford higher rent. Can't they get a housing subsidy? Or do they have one and nobody will rent to them? I really do feel badly for these people, but I am struggling to pay my taxes!

The last thing the Town needs is to become a landlord!

Anonymous said...

Do you something, or someone that is going to reconsider. In Town Meeting the longer into the season , (the more sessions) people tend to miss more and more meetings. Figure it out each meeting lasts 3 hours plus time getting back and being on Town Meeting between the fall and spring adds up to at least 40 hours or more a year...i.e. an extra week of work.

Anonymous said...

I was always under the impression that one had to actually have voted on the prevailing side to make the motion to reconsider, AND that a similar person had to make the second on it.

The picture tells the backstory on Echo Hill -- the apartments in question were actually office space that was converted to apartments a decade ago.

Anonymous said...

43 won't pass and if for some crazy reason it does it will be a major mistake on the part of the "elected" representatives to town meeting (some of whom wrote themselves in or had a tiny handful of-as in five or six-votes) the town meeting members who represent me: let her do a 30 year fail before her maker calls her back...

Anonymous said...

Stealing the development rights? No way. The town has the right of first refusal under the conditions of Chapter 61. The town is not stealing anything. If Cinda doesn't like that then the next time she shouldn't sign the agreement. You clearly don't want the town to spend money on the purchase, but don't mischaracterize it.

Larry Kelley said...

No, actually it is an eminent domain taking and as such will require a two thirds vote.

Even the venerable Gazette says so on the front page this morning.

Anonymous said...

There actually is a very simple way to defeat The Retreat without spending ANY money -- just pass a town ordinance outlawing "gated communities."

I'm still surprised that no one has raised this yet, but what is going to happen the first time folks realize that there is a "white-only" enclave in Amherst, with guards to keep everyone else out?

Anonymous said...

Larry, what gives? So much lament over a pin oak or two downtown and then a few hundred trees up north--meh? Twenty-five families on the street? Okay so long as the pin oaks stay up?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your silly and superfluous comment.

Anonymous said...


Walter Graff said...

"what is going to happen the first time folks realize that there is a "white-only" enclave in Amherst"

There already is. It's called North Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! As soon as someone brings up the issue of the prevalence of drugs and dealing them in student housing complexes (on another post, "NIMBY Backpedal), there is suddenly a fellow CAN on here saying, "Oh! We forgot to talk about how this will be a gated, guarded community of white kids! How did we forget that? How will the people of Amherst feel about that?" Hmm. I know how they'd feel about it in some parts of Georgia. (Quick, who said this: "Holy Cow! I can't believe someone actually figured out how to do this the right way!")

And of course we have Dr. Ed reassuring us that it's not the white kids, it's the "black, live-in boyfriends of single mothers living in section 8 housing" that are distributing the drugs. (also on another post, "NIMBY Backpedal"). Ever been to Southie, Doc?

But as we've seen on this blog countless times before... no one wants to talk about racism.

Sarah Swartz said...

Let's break this down. Echo Hill was purchased by an individual with his own money. It is therefore his right in The United States of America to do as he wishes with it.
It is also the right of other Americans to either like what he is doing or hate it and to be able to voice their opinions but not to be able to take what is his by force. Especially by using the force of the government. Or, in the case of Article 42, give wide and permanent power to this and all future Select Boards, to take land and funds as they see fit.
We as citizens may find ways to help those in need and that is what we are doing in many other ways and so is the Amherst Government. These people are being helped.
The same applies to Article 43.
North Amherst is not calling Amherst out on purpose for any racial misdoings. North Amherst by its nature is "the dirty hands district." It is where working people are and families are. Where people are working their way through school. We think, dream, struggle. It is where coexist is more than a bumper sticker.
We are diverse simply because those who are evolving into butterflies tend to be.
This is about individual rights. About personal responsibility. And kindness.v

Anonymous said...

Uh, yeah, thanks for the "breakdown" Sarah.

What the H-E double hockey sticks are you talking about.

Anonymous said...

IF the Landmark project goes up, students are definitely not white only.

Who cares if it's a gated community? Who are they keeping out? Oh wait, unless someone holds the gate open, it would be 500 strangers to a party.

Geez, people. Let's keep a little thinking going on here. I admit, I wouldn't like that many students in my backyard, mainly because of the traffic, density, etc. If there were a lot of noise, I wouldn't like that either.

But to quibble over a gate and use the r word (racist)? Give me a break.

Larry Kelley said...

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Tune in tonight and you will see some desperate cards played.

An IRATE Dr. Ed said...

I have been libeled -- and I want the world to know that some f**king a**hole is quoting me as having written words that I never did! I like to think that there are at least a few intellectually honest people left, and I am writing this to them -- and only to them:

And of course we have Dr. Ed reassuring us that it's not the white kids, it's the "black, live-in boyfriends of single mothers living in section 8 housing" that are distributing the drugs. (also on another post, "NIMBY Backpedal").

The quote which I have bolded for emphasis simply does not appear. I am posting exactly what I did write -- and the honest reader will both note that I didn't say anything close to what is alleged -- and what I did say. And why I think we should criminally prosecute the users and not just the dealers -- kinda doesn't fit your mold, does it?


"HUD understands drugs -- and if the town had leaned on the AHA the way it leaned in UMASS, if it had demanded that the single mothers be held accountable for their boyfriends who allegedly "don't live there" even though the APD repeatedly arrests them there, if they had revoked a few vouchers and the rest, this would have reigned a lot of this in."


"But the drugs are distributed through the network of live-in boyfriends residing in the Sect 8 apartments of single mothers."


"I argue that it's not racist to identify facts as facts -- and just because someone doing criminal things is Black or Hispanic shouldn't be an excuse against being held accountable for the same. But in Amherst it is, and that is what led to this happening."


"I will be the first to concede the race/class issue to the drug trade -- the demographic difference between those who sell the drugs and those who purchase them. Fine, let's approach this the way we do prostitution, go after the users and dry up the customer base -- which we aren't willing to do.

We could even eliminate our drug problem the way the ChiComs did shortly after the Communists came to power -- and I hope/pray that we never do. And yes it is a national scandal that the average Black male highschool GRADUATE has the reading/writing ability of hte average 7th grade white girl -- but it isn't like we aren't spending moneu for K-12 education."

An IRATE Dr. Ed said...

Ever been to Southie, Doc?

I've driven a truck in Southie, along with in the Bromley/Heath Housing Project and elsewhere. I came real close to scraping the bottom of a bridge in Southie. And your point is?

But as we've seen on this blog countless times before... no one wants to talk about racism.

No one wants to confront the most malicious form of racism -- that of maliciously smearing others with implicit (if not explicit) allegations of racism so as to silence unpopular race-neutral statements.

And when all else fails, we just fabricate quotes because we know that no one will ever verify that someone actually wrote the words we are accusing him of writing, let alone with the intent we attribute to them.

I've "walked the walk", damn it, I've paid a not-insignificant price for "walking the walk" and I am tired of these schmucks who do nothing but "talk the talk."

I was up on the (then structurally unsound) roof of Building 44 Southpoint (terrified that I was going to fall through it, others had) because that is what it took to get it fixed properly. I made a fuss about a bullet flying through the wall from an adjacent apartment because such things are unacceptable, as are upstairs toilets flushing onto the heads of the persons using the toilet on the floor below.

I am the person who insisted that Building 42 Southpoint wouldn't smell of Ethyl Myocaptain (i.e. Natural Gas) and I did this because I considered it the "right" thing to do, because that is how *I* interpret the concept of "social justice."

And I am tired of being smeared by schmucks who have never "walked the walk" in their lives, who have never (and would never) do something because it was the "right" thing to do. And I am going to end this here because most of the "right" things I have done are best not even referenced. I know that I've done them, the Lord knows I've done them, and that's enough.

And "the middle shall cease to hold" -- and that is what at least I am worried about...

Anonymous said...

I made a fuss about a bullet flying through the wall from an adjacent apartment because such things are unacceptable...

Did they catch the perpetrator???

Dr. Ed said...

I have to be a little obscure here -- the perp was identified to the point where people knew who it was, but not to the point where anything could be done about it.

The tenant, a single mother, alleged that she "never" locked her apartment and that, apparently, some unknown person had gone into her apartment, for some unknown reason, fired a round through the wall, and left -- and this was good enough to preclude her eviction.

And every New Year's Eve, there are the single mothers who put their small (often infant) children to bed and go partying -- and get arrested for OUI. And then around 4 AM there is a crying child because mother is still with the police....

And Ed has spent an awful lot of time on the back benches of assorted courtrooms which is part of why he is so cynical -- like I wrote earlier, being upset about what people do, and/or what the people whom they invite into their apartments do, has nothing to do with anything other than what they have done.

And the environment that they are exposing their children to. I once went into an apartment with pot smoke so dense that my first instinct was my firefighter training of get down near the floor -- I don't care what the woman does to her own body, but sitting next to her was a ~2-year-old also breathing this, and worse, the infant she was breastfeeding also was (as well as getting it via the milk).

Like I said, I don't care if adults want to destroy themselves, but little children with developing lungs ought to have a chance...

Call me conservative, but if you choose to have a child, you have an obligation to that child and this isn't optional. And this has to do with being a "custodial parent" and nothing to do with being female or male or anything else -- if society entrusts you with the care & custody of a minor child, you have an obligation to maintain that trust.

Anonymous said...

So the cops were called about the bullet flying through the wall from an adjacent apartment though, right?